Monday, July 30, 2012

Le food numero dos

The saga continue with what was a legitimate attempt of a shorter post, but was delayed too much and turned into another I-love-talking-about-food-at-any-time-of-the-day epic.

Art Café

Art Café is possibly my favorite places in Nairobi. Nicely set overlooking the Village Market, this little jewel gets high expat and local traffic. Whether it’s the freshly baked pastries, the variety of cocktails or the amazing food, I don’t know and little do I care as far as I can get seated on the terrace. Art Café must have the best cappuccino I’ve tried, served with a little flower inscribed into the foam. 

Me, myself and I, together with my Kindle spend a lot of time there going through A Song of Fire and Ice (yeah, Game of Thrones in its entirety). As my obsession with the book grows, so does my frequenting Art Café. Few things are as relaxing as a Campari One and a high quality book.


Me and “Game of Thrones”        Myself and “A Clash of Kings”

Me, my colleague and I also like eating desserts there. Ranking what I’ve tried so far: Tricolad Cake, Tiramisu, Carrot Cake, Cherry Vanilla Danish, Cheesecake. Been eyeing the lava cakes for quite some time. I gotta make a move on them in the next week or two.

Café Habibi

“White people love this place” – my cabby’s words when he dropped me off. Well, I’m white I said. And love it I did. Disregarded the fact that the only customers there at the time were white women, as I was too excited that the place actually exited directly into the street. Whoohoo, we are not in a compound! You could see people walking by, cars pulling over; you could hear traffic noise and people yelling – nothing too much, it’s not a main road. But still more than you can hope for in Nairobi.

Hostess was a woman in a hijab, hard to tell which country she was from. Someone at our table betted on Oman, but seriously, out of all the Middle Eastern countries you had to pick Oman? Seems random to me. And unverifiable.


Moroccan tea with a mint leaf. Hoped for pine nuts, but oh well, mint leaves had to do. Large mezze platter to share and try as many things as possible. I give them the hummus, tabouli and babaganoush: all well made. The rest of the mezzes were a little too out of my range of Middle Eastern food. Or maybe I’m just not used to African style Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine . Who knows. But samosas don’t qualify as Mediterranean, as far as I am concerned.

Tamambo Tapas

So far from real tapas, I don’t even know where to begin. Could have easily been the dish I ordered. Yet, even so, tapas is really not the word for what I had. Two types of bruschetta (one regular, one with haloumi), amazing cheese samosa and a collection of steamed vegetables wrapped in doughy thing is what made up the veggie sampler.

My choice of drink was a little out of the ordinary too as I went for Savannah, a South African cider. Honestly, the alcoholic content is not even worth a critique. It was non-existent. I expected a little more from RSA.

However, the extremely friendly staff and their weekend jazz gigs make up for the inappropriate name and somewhat strange food. Ohhh but they serve the dressing on the side in a muscle shell. So cool.


Afro-Mex Fusion? This as positive as my feedback can get. If you want good Mexican, this is not the place to be. But, if you want the African version of Mexican food, you came to the right place.

Dinner started with a taco appetizer, unfortunately packed with potatoes.

Zapata 1

Mmm let me backtrack a little bit to the chips. Real good. With decent salsa, which shouldn’t be surprising since kachumbari is basically the same thing. Not too hot, so I ventured a couple of bites. Got a chips refill, which must have been included in one price or another, but not alone on the bill. Now, back to the tacos: hard shell, pretty looking, but definitely not filled with the correct ingredients.

Moving on to the main dish, empanadas and gorditas. Neither one seemed right. What’s funny about it, is that half the time I was thinking that the filling is all wrong, but I couldn’t quite place what should be in those. I am too much of a quesadilla person to pay attention to what else goes into Mexican food.

Also hoping for pitchers of margaritas meant placing my expectations a little to high and unreachable for Kenya. The Zapata margarita could have worked out had it been at a more affordable price.


Superb. As usual, it always helps to have a Korean in the group when eating at a Japanese-Korean place. My one previous experience with Korean food left me with lots of delicious memories, some pictures and no food names. While my ultimate Japanese food experience at Nobu in NYC left me with a lingering taste of cod and lobster years after I went. Point is: with only good Japanese/Korean food tried, the bar was set high.

Small salad with my all-time favorite peanut sauce. Dumplings. Dumplings. Yep, correct, two kinds. Don’t remember the fills: veggie and pork enough of a description? Then, bulgogi to share, which was real good. Others ordered bi bim bap – this is more about me trying to remember what all the Korean food is called, than actually elaborating on the taste or quality.

I went for the oyako udon? Or did I? Of all the food that night, it’s the one I ate that I cannot remember the name of. Seriously, brain? But think fat udon noodles with mainly pork in them and some sautéed spinach style green stuff. With miso soup on the side. Soup was mediocre and totally did not deserve my attention as there was too much meat on the table.

Only problem: … ran out of kimchi….

Note to self: the really good Asian ice-cream wrapped in doughy stuff is Mochi.

Acacia Cafeteria

It’s a little strange having anything in Kenya called acacia. Doubt they even have acacias here…. Google proves me wrong as usual. First described in Africa by a Swedish botanist. Who would have thought? (I know some people probably did, but I thought of acacias as indigenous to home) The whole Wiki article is novel to me and kinda blowing my mind right now. They have fruit? Whaaatt?? White? I could swear I’ve seen purple acacia, no? Luckily for this post, the article takes us back to food – acacia honey… yummmm Now that’s something worth trying!

Oh right, Acacia Cafeteria is the cafeteria at work. Why it’s worth mentioning? It really isn’t. I’ve just tried some African food there that may be interesting to share. Someone else can be the judge of how African this food is.

- Ugali – the white mixture (also comes in yellow and brown depending on the flour) made of water and flower. Great side substitute of rice for a little bit. And then you are like: oh noo, not ugali, again.

- Ethiopian kidneys in some sauce – okay, so this was really bothering me for a while. What was so strange about these kidneys? Probably the fact that I thought I was eating liver. Which makes a lot more sense, because back home, fried liver or the sautéed liver with onions, aka drobcheta po selski, are amazing. If it wasn’t for the high cholesterol content in liver, I’d be downing those weekly. Maybe even daily. Meateater for life!

- The green pumpkin leaves, corn, potato thing… help Google help! Irio? Not very helpful, Google.

Observation on Kenyan food: spicewise  – bland. But why ruin meat with anything but salt and pepper? Level of cookedness :) – what most Americans will find overdone (let’s not even start with the French) I call well done (notice words spelled separately, indicating adverb and verb, not adjective :P). That’s how meat is supposed to be cooked. Yay for nyama choma!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Toi shopping

No, it’s not misspelled. I got up obscenely early on a Saturday morning to visit a place called Toi Market. After a double espresso to clear my head and meeting up with a friend, we proceeded.

I just wonder why? Why would you hang a bunch of trash bags on a tree? 
Early in the day, the “streets” were still quite empty, some shop holders still setting up, which allowed us to roam freely for a little bit. Not that roaming is restricted in any way at Toi, but there are fewer people dragging you to their stalls this early.  

Did I get what I wanted? Yes.

Did I pay too much? No.

Did I want to pay less? Of course.

Do I feel weird that I thought $1.20 was too much for a pair of socks and I kept haggling? Mayyybe

Either my negotiation/bargaining skills are lacking, which in no way am I saying they are not, or this was really as low as they’d go, which I doubt. With a point of reference on price and checking other “stalls” beforehand, I should feel like I got a deal. Somehow the fact that it was me who bended in the end for another $1.20 makes me less happy with this whole trade. Bottom line: they dropped their price more than I raised mine. 

Did I buy bananas for $0.08 cent one (seriously this is not 8 cents, but 0.08 of a cent!!!!!)? Nope. Should I have done it? Probably. I just don’t like buying fresh produce that is laid out by the side of the particularly dusty developing country roads. Yet, the ones that my friend bought and ended up in her banana bread were yum-yum-yummyyyy.

After completing my short Toi Market adventure (you can spend hours there digging through the massive amounts of stuff they have and bargaining with people), I moved over to Westgate Mall.

I hid behind a column to sneak a picture. As any other high white profile place, security here is pretty tight. Unlike the Village Market, there were no guards with machine guns. Beat that Westgate!

Back in civilization and this island of Western-ness, I had a chocolate milkshake that cost me more than the two pairs of socks I got. In moments like these, I really do question how developing countries work and why life is so unfair sometimes. Then, I get distracted by this or that flashy crap that I can afford, but I don’t really need and we are back to square one.

Once again, I could not help myself in the Kazuri store. Walked out with a pair of amazing black-orange-yellow-green earrings to top off the successful shopping day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Hello, and welcome to Carnivore.

Is this what heaven looks like?
The waiting – over! Finally crowned by the a night of meat-eating. 

I know it looks amazing, but for a short time I was hesitant about going. Don’t go there, it’s not what it used to be, said some of the reviews I read. This is an experience, you must do it, said others. The contraditctory reviews are one of the main reasons i find Trip Advisor of little use. What really got me to go in the end were two things: (1) my roommate and her boyfriend were in town and we had talked about going there for quite some time, (2) my brother considered flying to Nairobi from Tanzania just to go to this  place.

Oh and fyi, people writing bad reviews, it’s not the same because in October 2004, Kenya banned the sale of game meat. And while I would have loved me to try some wildbeest or antelope, I’m totally fine eating what we can bread. Next time before bitching about it read the little explanation cards on the tables.

Enough background, let’s move on to the substance. If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian stakehouse, which are quite similar to Carnivore, you’d understand why I’m about to speak about strategy. Going to such places requires planning along three dimensions: mental preparation, strategy and pacing. Mental preparation is necessary because of the number of dishes and some of the things you might see. My first Brazilian stakehouse experience brought me face-to-face with an entire cow wheeled to our table on a cart. It was so startling, I couldn't even answer the simple question of "Would you like some?". A strategy is necessary to consume as much meat as possible and consume it safely. [NB: I recommend you apply your strategy during the entire day. For instance, I ate no meat during the entire day. Rare, I know.] And a strategy is also necessary so you get to try the best meats which are brought last. This is the more typical fashion, which wasn’t completely followed in Carnivore, making it easier to focus on the good stuff. Finally, pacing is important so you can keep filling your belly with yummy kinds of meat for over 2 hours and still have space for dessert. You don’t have to eat everything they put in your plate, even though you asked for it. And I also strongly discourage you from drinking beer. However strong your dedication to the drink, remember that  you are just filling yourself with empty air and carbon dioxide instead of pork ribs and beef steak.

Now that we are clear what my approach to Carnivore was, we can start with the foooooodddddd. Until they brought the first meat, nothing else mattered. Sitting down and ordering drinks was automatic. Then, you start switching gear. First, a small potato appetizer with spicy masala sauce. Smartly, waited for feedback on the spice level of the sauce, was not recommended for the hot-food weakling that I am, and so I only tried 1 piece of potato. Second, cream of something soup. Rather refreshing. Definitely had celery in it. Can't really comment on the other ingredients. Tried 3 spoonfulls and set it aside. Tasty, but not the point of this restaurant visit. With this second, bread and butter -tried a small chuck and held my peace. Third:


A rotating plate with some boring salads on the bottom (coleslaw, some corn thing, kachumbari, and greens with red onions and tomatoes). On the top, six different sauces for each type of meat we were about to try. I don’t remember all of them, but I will mention the ones that I did try and remember what meat they go with. Honestly, very surprised that they complemented the meat. I generally dislike ruining meat with sauces. On the very top, the flag. "No flag, no country. Can't have one." This was our country. As far as the flag remains, the meat keeps coming. Life rules and everything is awesome. Take the flag down and the meat flow ceases.

So as far as our flag remained flying, this is what happened. First - ox balls. Chewy, with a strange aftertaste. Overall, not worth eating more than one. I also got one with skin on it, yuch. Mmm, and surprisingly small for the big animal that the ox is. No wonder they have to be cut off. I’d be embarrassed with a set of those, were I an ox.

Second - pork ribs!! Simply the best. Sticky, probably made with honey. No fat, no skin. Just a little crispy. Can eat all the meat off the bone. A small reminder of that pork rib place in Vienna. Although I don't think that was as good as this one. But it's been a long time since I was last there. 


At some point side dishes of roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach appeared. Nope, never got eaten. Not the best sides either, but they were technically well cooked. Here, my plate includes them. If it looks empty to you, think twice. You don't want too much meat at any one point in time because it gets cold. Top left is the pork sausage. Pretty good, but I have similar ones everyday for breakfast (except for the morning of the Carnivore experience), so I didn’t focus much on it. The meatball – ostrich! With wild berry sauce! This ended up on the top 3 meats of the night list! Simply amazing! Pure meat. Doesn’t smell. For a bird that can’t fly and instead of running hides its head underground, the ostrich was surprisingly tender. Almost like fowl. The guy serving them quickly became our bff and kept returning again and again. 


Thanksgiving coming early! Asked for the crispy skin. Well made turkey. Juicy and moist. Reminder of the Yearwoods deep fried Thanksgiving turkeys. And yes, I do have a point of reference for almost any type of meat, except for the ox balls, ostrich and crocodile. Speaking of the latter two, in addition to the ostrich meatballs, we also had plain ostrich leg, which was also amazing. I'm quite satisfied with the stupid bird. Si, I tried crocodile. Didn't like it. It's chewy like a scallop. Has the consistency of sea food. Also smells like dirt and the water it just lies around in without moving. Smells lazy, like the common carp does (had to look that up and still not sure it's the correct type of fish, but i mean "sharan").

Also, there was mediocre pork leg. A little too heavy, but with nice crispy skin. Ohhhh I almost forgot the lamb!!! Small lamb chops with the bone. They only had 2 for our table of 3 the first time they came around. So I had to beckon them again. And when they finally returned with smoking hot lamb chops I took two and told the guy to come back. It's nowhere near close the Bulgarian lamb, but it was good. For those of you that hate the smell of lamb, this one you could stomach. Trust me. Finally, there was chicken too, but we didn't even bother with it. Might have been good, but it's just chicken. 

The Dawa maker knew exactly when to smile 

Tried Dawa too. As far as I'm concerned, this is just a mojito made with vodka instead of white rum. It was okay, but definitely not something that mixes well with meat. Actually, it is a little more like caipirinas - sugar, limes and strong liquor. 


The flag is down, we are defeated. And besides it's dessert time!!! We decided to share three different ones.  Top left, choco-chip something. It was ok, the ice-cream was good. Top right, chocolate cake richly soaked in espresso. Not richly enough because I couldn't taste the coffee. But it was a nice, moist cake. In the front, brandy something - basically caramel (a little burnt and somewhat bitter, which made this a lot more interesting) cones filled with cream.

In a somewhat comatose state, we got back in our van and drove away. In nights like this one, I am so happy my family didn’t raise me to be vegetarian or that the wrong switch did not cut the meat-eating circuit. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Worst office retreat ever?!

Oh, god. Literally, figuratively and in any other way possible. Jesus, Allah, Buddah, Vishnu or whatnot. As the old anti-piracy commercial used to say: what did I get myself into????

Two nights ago, I was sitting in my church hotel room (I'll get there) pondering how cruel and ironic fate can be. All I wanted of this evening was a glass of red, no preference, and time alone with my Kindle and A Clash of Kings. Instead, I was listening to what sounded like an evening prayer or a group singing exercise with piano accompaniment and trying to figure out how I would get through the next two days without slashing my wrists.

When I was told that this place is owned by the church and I won't be finding any wine, my heart skipped a beat, or two. Had I known earlier I would have packed accordingly. As to why a church would own a hotel, and by the way it's a chain of them, this remains a mystery. I got no answer to the question “Why?”. No one here even bothers to question the church. God forbid, hehe, I'd suggested it was to make $$$ for itself, the bashing would have been inevitable. With the possibility of the latter being physical. Or maybe it was my terror-of-being-locked-in-a-building-with-religious-fanatics-driven imagination that was getting a little out of control.

What followed was two full days of incessant complaining about the weather and how cold it was, how we should have picked another place, how awful the food was (and it truly was on the verge of disgusting; they must have bought the cheapest crap out there, and it wasn’t me who said that) and how … I don’t even remember the rest. Without my buddies Jack or Jim on my side this was unbearable.

The work we were supposed to be doing was at time moving, at times going no where. With little understanding of what we achieved, given the constant going back and forth about minute details, we finally departed for Nairobi.

The 22 minute bus ride seemed like eons. I walked into my room, threw my backpack on the bed and darted off for the nearest bar. By the power vested in a glass of nicely chilled white wine, my sanity was finally returning to me. Or so I hope.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lake Elemntaita

Another hike, another burn and no sore muscles. If anything is going to hurt this week, it will be my tank-top-burned back. Sunblock is overrated. Or I just wasn’t built for Equatorial sun. 

Where to begin? I know where it all ends - broken radiator, steam and matatus. The start: ready, steady, go on the so-called 4 hour hike. Lies! Even in the insane, in my opinion, pace at which we were going, we still finished in 6.5 hours. Why can’t Kenyans be honest about time? 

IMG_0660No shade, no shadows – you know it’s bad. Smartly, I brought my Singaporean 30 sunblock with the hope that if it can help keep Asians white, then maybe it will help me too. Would that it could.

IMG_0663See the little mount on the left? That’s how far we made it, AND THEN around on the ridge behind it and back down to the main lodge. 4 hours, my *ss!


Stunning, no? From here we went down to walk by the water passing various types of cattle – cows, cows with horns, little yummy looking kids (those are baby goats) and little yummier looking lambs (all pretty silent when I come to think about it, no mooing and baaing). One of our organizers kept coming back to the end of the group (yep, that’s were I was trailing, enjoying myself and taking pictures) to make sure we don’t get attacked by buffalos. She was way too worried about the buffalos.

The lake was the highlight only until we made it to the skirts of the first hill and enthusiasm was overshadowed by misery. My 3-4 kg backpack was only part of the problem. Despite the fact that I kept eating everything in it and chugging water to make the load lighter, the two zip-ups (apparently the Brits call them jumpers, but that’s just a little too ridiculous) I was carrying were doing precisely the opposite. Exacerbating my gloomy condition was the scorching sun, beating down on us. We broke for lunch around 1 PM on top of a hill with no shade! With my water at boiling point there was little hope of cooling down any time soon.

On we go again soon enough on an even worse trail (after a deceptive stretch going down, the hill was even steeper). Again no shade, no cloud, no wind, no relief from the heat. Running around us up and down the hill collecting people at the back was our guide Benson, a local Masai looking person who must have climbed this a million times since he had nothing on him, only a small bottle of water (ohh and his mobile phone). No wonder Kenyans always win the Olympic marathon gold. Impressive endurance.


Benson restlessly waiting for the last to conquer the second hill. Around 3 PM this was mission impossible for those out of water and the 7-month pregnant lady. This time I wasn’t in that last part of the group and got a longer rest. As soon as they made it to our temporary camp we were up and running on the final stretch to the summit.


Breathtaking! Worth the exhaustion! To the left, the hill where we had lunch is dwarfed by our current location. See how far from the lake we are?  P.S. It only looks dark because it’s taken against the sun. What may seem as lack of heat is a mere illusion produced by an equally overheated camera.

From here on it was all downhill. Less complaining! With the sun heading west, it was losing strength as we were losing altitude. Quickly we reached the bottom of the hill and from then on it was another 45 mins of walking without any incline at a brisk pace. We passed a little village, more cattle, donkeys, dancing African children.

Like most of my stories, this one finished with a Tusker in hand. Or so I thought before we got back on the road.


A distress call made us turn around to help our fellow hikers. Luckily for me, I switched buses and found myself on the working one. With unknown problems at their hands, drivers and organizers could do nothing else but attempt to cram all of us sardines in one bus and get to the closest gas station. This physical impossibility remained untested as the broken bus started and managed to get some of the people to a gas station 500m away.

It took some time to realize that the bus wasn’t going anywhere. I still wonder why anyone thought that was an option. With the pitch dark roads in rural Kenya you want to be any other place but there if your vehicle breaks. As the revelation occurred (together with the steam from the bus’s radiator), a call was made and 20 mins later 2 matatus appeared to take people back to town. The phlegmatic speed at which Kenya operates normally made the matatu appearance seem astoundingly quick.

14 hours later I was back home with barely enough strength left in me to shower and craw into bed. Challenge accepted, challenge fulfilled. Lily out.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blankets & Wine

Voilà le blanket et les vins!
You can tell which one I picked, right? The late harvest on the right was a sweet deliciousness that tasted more like apple juice than wine. Ideal for washing down the Italian baked pastries we had for dessert. Thanks V.
Adding cheese, crackers and good company and you got yourself a sweet Sunday afternoon.
Might have been edition XXXV (this is 35 for those that don’t read Roman numerals well. Personal history shows that getting past 49 with those is quite a nuisance.) overall, but it was my first Blankets & Wine. It’s just one of those fun, social things that happen every first Sunday of the month that everyone knows of. It also happens to be a high quality music gig bringing performers from around East Africa for a chill, jazzy, soul, reggae mixture of good music. This time there were even artists from Denmark and South Africa! P.S. Run by a friend of friend. Look at me meeting local elite and celebrities!
Turns out, Blankets & Wine is the social scene of that first Sunday of the month. I wish I had taken more photos. Some of the outfits and dos were awesome! As Kenyans come here to show of and see who’s who, expats come here to eat, drink and party. Which you could tell by the large coolers many of them brought and the exquisite picnic food pre-packed in plastic boxes. As we roll out in jeans and t-shirts (soon enough with red wine spilled on them, no news here), Kenyans, or I should say Nairobians (word or not a word? Google – yes, me – no, sounds too stupid to be a word and only gives 328K hits on .com) roll out in colorful summer dresses, Ray-Bans (I was wearing Ray-Bans too to make up for what was now two red wine stains on the 3 white stripes of my t-shirt), hats and neatly done new hairdos, ranging from fresh dreads to newly braided to just straightened.
By 5 PM things got a little jammed and I basically ran into every single person I’ve met in Nairobi so far who happened to be in town this weekend. Coolio. Caught up with old folks, met new ones, drank a decent amount of red, late harvest, red with Emmental and my randomly successful selection of crackers.
Yet, all good things come to an end and we called it a day quite early. Left what rumor had it an extra 4 hours of music for an hour long drive back to my place. As darkness spread its veil over my quite Nairobi-type suburbia, I was happily back home after an amazing day prepping myself for the Euro 2012 final and cheering for what soon turned out to be the loosing team. Really Italy? Really? 4:0? Love you España, but you can only be the underdog once.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

East African Music

A couple of weeks ago (yes, long overdue, but inspiration often runs dry with blogging as with every other kind of writing), I went to l’Alliance Francaise for some East African Music.

No surprise that the Alliance Francaise is one of the good cultural places in town. It always is in my experience. Yet, there’s also the Goethe Institute and the Italian Cultural Center, which I have yet to visit and enjoy some of the things they host.

Anyhow, the Alliance Francaise was hosting a night of East African Music. Nicely set in their patio, plenty of seats if you come early enough, dancing space and an elevated, well-lit stage. In the main room, a large screen for those that could not make it to the front or wanted to take a look at the special Mogadishu photography exhibit; a bar with reasonably priced drinks and some stale-looking croissants; a keg with draft beer that was somewhat mediocre, but even cheaper (to give a sense of Tusker, it’s a very light beer, both in alcohol content and in taste, so when you get it on draft it often tastes like PBR, but then again it costs as much as a PBR, so it’s all fair and just); a table selling CDs, DVDs and other merchandise.

As I waited with beer in hand, performers were warming up all dressed in their traditional attire.


The event was opened by a number of somewhat important people (the director of the Alliance Francaise, the French ambassador or consul, someone from the EU delegation, someone from some Kenyan ministry) who took way too long with their speeches and made many people unhappy. Yet, we soon started. An MC introduced every performer. Had I paid more attention and taken notes, I could have remembered where the bands come from. With my little knowledge of locations, tribal characteristics and local languages, it might have been a fruitless endeavour from the start. And as my favorite slogan says “Do or do not. There is no try”. So I just didn’t.

The night started with what we decided were some Somali performers. Quite nice, almost reggae style music.


People streamed to dance almost immediately! I remained at my seat deciding to preserve my good view of the stage for as long as I can (a surprisingly small number of tall people sat in front of me, which is a rare occasion). IMG_0559

After the more contemporary artists, more traditional groups took the stage. Unfortunately, the sound system gives little justice to their act. The video I took is even worse and hence won’t be uploaded (also because it does not comply with Youtube’s license agreements, which are something new for me). The Kenyan traditional music (I refrain from calling it Masai, because it could have easily been something else, and I will never know for the lack of Kenyans in our group. We had a Somali, so she can vouch for the first set of artists) is beautiful without a sound system and the yelling/shouting is quite powerful. It’s beyond me why they decided to perform this way, but it probably made sense in a way I don’t fully understand.

As we were exiting the venue during the last song, I noticed the diversity of the crowd. Many of the places I go to here are either entirely expatty or entirely local. With the exception of some restaurants, there seems to be an unspoken segregation. Which honestly has nothing to do with whether the people like each other or not, which they do. But the crowd at the Alliance was quite diverse in terms of the people and age. I mean if you look at our group alone: Italian, Italian-Iranian, Korean, Somali, British and moi, the Bulgarian. And then some French joined and an Italian-Canadian (as if this is a thing).

Fun night! Despite some sullen suspicion that East African music cannot match West African music (I will not talk more about this because I know NOTHING!), everyone was quite happy.